Wandering in Vietnam

Hello fellow Wanderers!

Aaron, here. I wanted to share some updates from our recent trip to Vietnam.It’s a beautiful country filled with beautiful people – and our visit there could not have been timed more perfectly.

Overall, we covered over 1000 miles in the 12 days we were in Vietnam, traveling in style the whole time: by vintage Minsk motorbikes, in sidecars, by bicycle, all different size boats and even in a war era army jeep. Our travel itinerary was stacked with must-sees across the country, but here’s the play-by-play:

Aaron at Bạch Mã National Park with his great-grandfather’s 1950’s Yashica camera.

Hanoi

We started in Hanoi, the capital of the country and the heart of communist Vietnam. With more than 1,000 years of history, Hanoi is one of the major cultural centers of the country. Walking through the city, we wandered through the traditional Vietnamese architecture of the Old Quarter to the French-inspired buildings and boulevards of Colonial Hanoi, which coexist with the communist-era architecture and imagery that you can spot throughout the city.

While there, we also visited Hỏa Lò Prison, which was built by the French in the late 1800s to hold Vietnamese political prisoners. It became more widely known during the Vietnam War as the “Hanoi Hilton”, when it was used to hold American POWs, including now US Senator John McCain. Our visit there was an unforgettable reminder of the rich and varied history of this nation.

Ninh Binh

On a brighter note, after departing Hanoi, we moved on to Ninh Binh, a small region in North Vietnam. The lush greenery and karst rock formations we saw would have been right at home on a Vietnam travel guide or desktop wallpaper. While we were there, we found out that some of the filming for Kong: Skull Island had also taken place here, so if you’ve seen some of the trailers for that film, you may have seen Ninh Binh.

Ha Long Bay

From there, we visited Ha Long Bay, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This place was capital-G Gorgeous. Throughout our entire trip, it felt as if the landscapes of Vietnam were constantly trying to outdo each other – but Ha Long Bay was a clear winner.

Ha Long Bay, UNESCO World Heritage Site

Aaron amongst the glow of the lanterns at Hue’s Full Moon Festival

Hue

We left Ha Long Bay and headed south towards the city of Hue, the former capital of Vietnam from 1802–1945, back when the country was governed by a monarchy. There we visited the Imperial City, which served as the home of the Nguyen Dynasty, the last royal dynasty in Vietnamese history. Like Ha Long Bay, the Imperial City has been declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. The architecture and craftsmanship on display in the Imperial City Palace was truly magnificent.

Hoi An

After our visit to Hue, we made our way to the city of Hoi An. Our timing was such that we were in the city for the Full Moon Lantern Festival, which happens in Hoi An on the 14th day of every lunar month. The festival is conducted solely by candlelight – the entire area of the old town turns off its electricity and all motorized traffic is banned. The sight of thousands of multi-colored lanterns floating down the river was a visual spectacle, to say the least.

Floating market in Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon)

Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon)

We then traveled to Danang, where we hopped on a plane to get us to Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon). Among the many highlights there was our visit to the War Remnants Museum, which holds artifacts from the Vietnam War and the first Indochina War. We also had time to check out the Cai Be Floating Market (see above picture). Here, local residents sell their wares on boats in the middle of the Mekong River.

By the end of our trip, we had accumulated a million different experiences and sights – and I look forward to seeing how our time spent in Vietnam will influence our next Wander projects!

Two local children playing at Xã Gia Thắng.

 

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CONTACT INFO:
For inquiries, please contact:
William Trusting
ph: 323.230.7361
e-mail: william@wanderfilms.com

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